King, William R. D.

Born: 1786-04-07 North Carolina

Died: 1853-04-18 Alabama

William R. D. King was born in Sampson County, North Carolina. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1803, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1806. He became a member of the North Carolina House of Commons in 1807, serving until 1809. In 1810, he served as city solicitor of Wilmington. King won election, as a Democrat, to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from 1811 to 1816. After a year overseas, he moved to Alabama in 1818. The next year, he was elected to the U.S. Senate as a Democratic-Republican and continued to be elected thereafter, serving from December 1819 to April 1844. Upon his resignation, King served as minister to France, a position he held from 1844 to 1846. King returned to the United States in the fall of 1846 and was elected back to the Senate in July 1848, to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of Arthur P. Bagby, a position King held until his resignation in December 1852. In November of the same year, King won election as vice-president on the Democratic ticket with Franklin Pierce. However, after Pierce was elected president, King traveled to Cuba to seek treatment for tuberculosis. Unsuccessful, he returned to Dallas County, Alabama and died before ever stepping foot in Washington, DC, as vice president. He never married.

Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1949 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1850), 101, 106, 1415; J. Mills Thornton III, “King, William Rufus de Vane,” American National Biography, ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 12:720-21; Gravestone, Live Oak Cemetery, Selma, AL.